• Day284

    Icefields Parkway, Canada

    July 28, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 5 °C

    Roads, rivers and the Rockies.

    This 200-odd km road from Banff to Jasper is appropriately named the Icefields Parkway. It is (or perhaps was) a glaciated valley, pumped full of rivers, glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, trees and alpine meadows, still (and only just) home to the Columbian Icefield whose rivers feed three separate oceans. It is absolutely spectacular. I'll let the photos speak for themselves on this one.

    Along the road there are plenty of stop-offs for walks, viewpoints, picnics, educational signage and even glacier tours. The list is endless. We chose the Parker's Ridge walk which offered jaw dropping views of a glacier and valley with minimal demand on the legs. It was busy and in fact the whole day felt a bit congested with tourists but the valley was big enough for us all and it only took a little extra effort to beat the crowds. This highway would probably be one of the few in the world where it is perfectly acceptable to stop your vehicle in the middle of the road to observe a view or animal. On a highway jam packed with RVs and foreign drivers (ourselves included) it's fairly apparent why it took us all day to drive 200km.

    Although there are said to be dozens of glaciers visible from the highway, many appear to be mere snow caps on mountain peaks. Considering that these monstrous molders were the driving force that shaped the surrounding mountains and valleys (over 3000m high), it's crushing to see them diminished to such puny powers in the landscape they once ruled. What's even sadder is that in meagre decades or less, they won't exist at all and we'll be attempting to describe them to the next generation with nothing but words and photos...and probably a time-lapse video.

    I haven't done much research into glaciers but to keep my conscience clear I've convinced myself of two advantages to glacial melt: more fresh water for our demanding population and more highlands for alpine meadows and young pine forests. Who knows, maybe the lakes will even drop to a swimmable temperature. Perhaps the next generation will appreciate that more than a glacier selfie...
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